Flu… it’s a word we all dread, yet it comes around every year just like clockwork, with its fever, body aches and pains, headache, cough, runny nose and a hundred other little miseries that keep you miserably trapped in your bed.
And, even if you do get the flu vaccine, there’s no reason to put all your eggs in one basket, since every year scientists are battling different strains.
But, what if I told you that taking one simple thing each day could offer you big protection, maybe even as much as when you get stuck with that needle?
That’s what researchers at the University of Queen Mary London say….
The sunshine vitamin protects your lungs
The analysis compiled the data from around 11,000 participants in 25 clinical trials conducted in 14 countries. Here’s what they found…
Daily or weekly supplementation halved the risk of acute respiratory infection (like colds or flu) in people with the lowest baseline vitamin D levels.
However, people with higher baseline vitamin D levels also benefited, with a 10 percent risk reduction.
And, according to the researchers, overall, the reduction in the risk of acute respiratory infection by taking vitamin D was on a par with the protective effect of the injectable ‘flu vaccine against ‘flu-like illnesses.
The bottom line? Supplementing with vitamin D daily or weekly not only reduces your risk of getting an upper respiratory infection like a cold or the flu, it reduces your risk just as much as getting the flu vaccine itself.
The key is that you have to take the sunshine vitamin at least daily or weekly to gain this protection since according to the study, more widely spread doses didn’t result in the same protection.
Avoiding the flu
So, what can you do to avoid getting a cold, flu or other respiratory infection this winter (aside from the flu shot)?
First, do as the study suggests and make vitamin D part of your daily regimen. A good dose is 5,000 IU. You can find it in both liquid and soft gel form, whichever is your preference.
Other ways to ward off these bugs include:
- Eat more protein – Research shows that diets that are too low in protein can deplete the immune system.
- Wash your hands often – Flu germs are everywhere and can live on surfaces for 24 hours (that’s a full day that they can lie in wait to infect anyone who puts their hand on them) so be sure to wash your hands often. Now that the antibacterial agent Triclosan is on its way out (here’s why that’s a good thing), all you need to do is use regular soap and hot water to kill germs.
- Think zinc to kick it faster – A 2015 analysis of clinical trials found that oral zinc helps to reduce the length of colds when taken within 24 hours after symptoms start so pop some zinc at the first sign of an upper respiratory problem.
- Stay hydrated – Your first line of defense is the mucous membrane in your nose so keep it hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
Just because cold and flu season is here doesn’t mean you have to get sick. Use vitamin D and the other tips above to keep the germs away and your immune system on track.
- Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, finds major global study — University of Queen Mary London
- 5 Tips: Natural Products for the Flu and Colds: What Does the Science Say? — National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)